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  • Writer's pictureSam Wilks

Economic Principles and National Security

In the complex interplay between economic principles and national security, a nuanced understanding emerges, one that bridges the gap between the abstract theories of economics and the pragmatic realities of maintaining a secure society. This discourse draws upon a rich tapestry of thought to explore how economic theories inform national and international security policies, particularly in the context of the trade-offs between economic freedom and regulatory measures designed to ensure safety.

At the core of this discussion lies a fundamental tension between the ideals of economic freedom and the need for regulatory measures that safeguard national security. Economic freedom, with its emphasis on minimal state intervention, free trade, and open markets, is often promoted as a catalyst for prosperity and innovation. However, the laissez-faire approach, while fostering economic growth, can also present security vulnerabilities, necessitating a delicate balance between the free flow of goods, capital, and people and the imperative to protect national interests.

National security, in its broadest sense, encompasses not only the physical safety of a nation's borders but also the economic resilience and stability of its society. Economic theories contribute to security policies by providing frameworks for understanding how economic activities and policies impact national strength and vulnerability. For instance, dependence on foreign oil can be seen not just as an economic issue but as a significant security risk, prompting policies that encourage energy independence or diversification of energy sources.

The trade-offs between economic freedom and security are evident in the regulation of international trade. Free trade agreements, while promoting economic growth through increased market access and efficiency, also require careful consideration of security implications. The screening of foreign investments in critical infrastructure, for example, reflects a recognition that economic transactions can have profound implications for national security. Australia's decision to block the sale of its largest electricity network to foreign buyers in 2016, citing national security concerns, illustrates how security considerations can override economic interests. Yet, the Australian government did not block the sales of several Australian ports that provide substantially greater risk and potential trade restrictions on local economies, and instead approved the sale to Chinese owned companies. This decision sparked controversy and raised concerns about national security. It has also led to greater foreign military presence in our country.

In the Northern Territory of Australia, these trade-offs are particularly salient in the context of its strategic location and significant indigenous population. The region's economic development, centred on mining, agriculture, and bureaucratic interventionism, coexists with security concerns, including border control and the protection of critical infrastructure. The Northern Territory's proximity to South-east Asia makes it a focal point for Australia's national security, influencing policies on foreign investment and the development of its ports and military bases. At the same time, efforts to bolster the local economy and improve the well-being of indigenous communities must navigate the complexities of national security requirements.

The dynamics of international relations further complicate the interdependence of economic policies and security measures. Economic sanctions, a tool often employed to achieve security objectives without resorting to military action, exemplify how economic measures can be wielded as instruments of national policy. However, the effectiveness of sanctions in achieving security goals without unduly harming the economic interests of the sanctioning country or the global economy remains a subject of debate. Some argue that targeted sanctions, such as those aimed at specific individuals or sectors, are more successful in accomplishing these objectives. The sanctions on medicines placed on Australia by China after the accusations of a COVID cover up led to the deaths of many Australian citizens due to a lack of access to necessary medical supplies.

The challenge of balancing economic freedom with the necessity of regulatory measures for security is not merely a matter of policy but also of perception. Psychological insights into risk perception and fear, as well as the influence of individual differences in responses to security threats, highlight the complexity of public support for security measures. Policies that are too intrusive or perceived as unduly restricting economic freedom can lead to public backlash, while under-regulation may erodetrust in the government's ability to protect its citizens.

The relationship between economic principles and national security is characterised by inherent trade-offs that require careful navigation. Economic theories offer valuable insights into the mechanisms by which economic activities influence national strength and vulnerability, informing policies that seek to balance the benefits of economic freedom with the imperatives of security. Real-world examples from Australia, particularly the Northern Territory, illustrate the practical challenges of implementing these policies in a way that respects both economic aspirations and security needs. As nations grapple with these complex issues, the ongoing dialogue between economic and security disciplines remains crucial for crafting policies that safeguard both prosperity and peace. After the recent attacks by sonar, on the Australian Navy and the Australian government's capitulation to the needs of Chinese industry it has become abundantly clear to many, that our nation under attack is in need of stronger and far more resilient political representation. Alternatively, it is evidence our military is ill-prepared for defending our borders from foreign threats.

From the author.

The opinions and statements are those of Sam Wilks and do not necessarily represent whom Sam Consults or contracts to. Sam Wilks is a skilled and experienced Security Consultant with almost 3 decades of expertise in the fields of Real estate, Security, and the hospitality/gaming industry. His knowledge and practical experience have made him a valuable asset to many organizations looking to enhance their security measures and provide a safe and secure environment for their clients and staff.

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